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Building a starter pack for an API-as-a-Service

52 points7 monthsresteasyapi.com
mtlynch7 months ago

I sell an API as a service,[0] and I've been using RapidAPI for years. I've never been happy with them. They charge a 20% fee, and then there's another 3-5% fee for payments via PayPal. And they do many small transactions per month, so you pay PayPal's minimum fees over and over, making the total fees about 25-30%.

On top of that, their service is terrible. Customer support is rarely helpful, they frequently fail to bill my customers and just shrug it off, their dashboard takes 20+ seconds to load simple views. I could go on and on.

I welcome competitors in this space because I've been surprised at how few vendors offer what I'd expect to be not so hard a service.

The thing that kills this deal for me is that RestEasy isn't the merchant of record, so the API owner still has to figure out how to pay taxes in every state/country where they're liable for taxes.

The other thing that would make me nervous is that you're a brand new company, and you're a point of failure for my API. If RestEasy goes down, my service goes down.

RestEasy's site also currently has a lot of typos, which would also make me nervous about betting my uptime on this service.

I'm currently in the process of migrating to Paddle. They act as merchant of record, and their fees are 5%, though they require me to write a lot of my own custom code to integrate with their system.

[0] https://zestfuldata.com/

j457 months ago

Tying in paddle as merchant of record for all installs shouldn’t be that challenging no?

Stripe has connect as well to split but I’m not sure their merchant of record features are as mature.

mtlynch7 months ago

>Tying in paddle as merchant of record for all installs shouldn’t be that challenging no?

It's not that hard, but I'm anticipating like 40 hours of work start to finish to get Paddle set up and write the integration.

The one positive thing I'll say about RapidAPI is that they made onboarding easy. They handle all of user signup, payments, etc. and they just forward your API requests from users. The only code I had to write is a few lines to populate a custom HTTP response header to tell RapidAPI how many units of my service the request consumed.

Paddle provides a lot less infrastructure, so I still have to write my own user signup flow. Paddle offers a JS library that does the heavy lifting for user signup, but I still have to integrate it with my website. And then they don't have the proxy model at all, so users talk directly to my backend, and my backend has to check with Paddle to see whether the user is valid or not. Then my backend has to both respond to the user and send a separate request to Paddle to add to the user's bill.

>Stripe has connect as well to split but I’m not sure their merchant of record features are as mature.

I didn't realize Stripe offered MoR at all, but it looks like they do now. My reading is that if I were to sell under RestEasy, then Stripe would indeed act as my MoR because I'm the "third-party seller":

>Is Stripe a merchant of record?

>Stripe is an MoR, but only for its Stripe Connect platform. With Stripe Connect, businesses can create platforms or marketplaces that process payments for third-party sellers. In this case, Stripe serves as the MoR, processing payments and assuming the associated responsibilities on behalf of the third-party sellers.

>However, when businesses use Stripe to process payments for regular direct transactions, the business itself remains the MoR while Stripe acts as a payment processor or payment gateway. This means that the business is responsible for transactional compliance, tax obligations, and managing refunds and chargebacks, while Stripe handles the technical aspects of transaction processing.

https://stripe.com/resources/more/merchant-of-record

j457 months ago

The clarification about stripe only being MoR in some cases (connect) is a time saver for me.

It’s good to know paddle is that comprehensive to implement. I think there were a few more providers I was looking at for MoR, I can share them if I locate them.

Thanks for taking the time to share it.

conkeisterdoor7 months ago

Tangential, but I'm working on a personal recipe manager so I can easily search for my recipes and render them to PDF with a uniform style. But I decided that for v1, the database will just store ingredients as full strings, because I didn't want to write the code to parse them. I may just sign up for your service to do the parsing for me :) Thanks for sharing

f35caleb7 months ago

I am cofounding a new SaaS "starter pack", but for a very specific niche. This product aims to serve as the frontend and middleware for anyone planning to launch an API-as-a-Service product. The idea for this product is straightforward: once you've built an awesome API service and are ready to share it with the world, you've only done like 20% of the work. You need to build an entire UI so that your customers can create accounts, issue API keys, set up billing information, keep track of API usage, logging, admin UI's to track all of this, and the list goes on...

Our product, which we're calling "RestEasy", is the 'as-a-Service' to your API. You're going to be able to stand up a completely white-labelled user portal on your own custom URL, complete with your own color scheme and logo. We will also provide white-labelled admin portals so you can manage your users, API keys, pricing, check usage logs, some basic analytics, etc.

Check out the homepage and let me know what you think! Are there any specific use cases you would want to see covered in the platform?

Be sure to sign up for the waitlist. We'll be sending out periodic updates along the way to keep you updated on how we're doing.

[Website Link](https://www.resteasyapi.com/)

hbcondo7147 months ago

So there is no actual functionality to try out right now? From what I browsed, the site is essentially a landing page + email signup.

f35caleb7 months ago

Correct. Sorry to disappoint, but we're very early stage at this time. We'll be releasing more info as we develop the product and collect feedback.

matt_s7 months ago

If I were building an API service, I think I would want control over the security around the API and the site doesn't describe in depth how the actual customer's data is secured, just "assign a random token".

What domain would this white-label admin interface reside on if a sales/signup page and my actual API endpoints are on my domain for example? Wouldn't customers find it jarring to be going to "myawesomeAPI.com" to signup and then the domain for actual API calls ends up on "resteasyapi.com"?

f35caleb7 months ago

Thank you for the feedback! We're still very early stage right now, and we'll be releasing more specifics around security in the coming days.

RestEasy will operate by forwarding your customer's request to your endpoint, so there will be two keys used to secure the API call. One from your customer to RestEasy, and then one to your service. We'll be doing a detailed writeup on that in the next several weeks.

The domain will be white-labelled, so the API calls will still be going to a subdomain of myawesomeAPI.com

obblekk7 months ago

Very cool, I've been thinking about the need for a service like this.

Does the 22% fee you're charging mean a 22% revenue share of what the customer pays? If so... that's very expensive.

GordonS7 months ago

Thus sounded really interesting, right up until I saw 22% - that is a lot.

f35caleb7 months ago

Thanks for the feedback! And yes, we're charging a 22% revenue share, which represents the all-in fee (no additional processing fees on top of it). I hope you'll find the final product worth it :)

simlevesque7 months ago

I'm using Deno's SaaSKit for this: https://github.com/denoland/saaskit

htrp7 months ago

> Pricing

> $5/month per organization

> 22% fee for paid endpoints

> $5/month fee credit

How does this work ?

f35caleb7 months ago

If you set up an account with us to sell your API(s), we'll charge $5/month for the account. If you don't make any sales, then the most you'll ever pay out of pocket is the $5.

Once you start making revenue, you'll get a $5 credit towards the revenue share each month. In other words, it ends up being the greater of $5 or 22% of total revenue. Hope that helps!

paulclinger7 months ago

I find it easier to read if it's something like "22% with $5 minimum per month".

icelancer7 months ago

Huh. I sell an API as a service and I never thought about middlemen abstracting some parts of it away.

Why do people use this? Just curious what the bull case is for this. Totally willing to believe there is one, but failing to figure it out myself.

f35caleb7 months ago

My cofounder and I started this project to solve issues I had building my own API service. I had built a data API service and then realized I needed a way to service customers. I fell down the rabbit hole of building user onboarding workflows, account recovery, issuing and storing API keys, etc. It ended up being more work than the API itself!

It's the cost of doing business, I suppose. But it was such a pain that I got together with my cofounder and we decided that we should build a company to make that part easier!

npollock7 months ago

are there any open source solutions in this space? something that sits in front of your API as a proxy, and has an interface for managing access, rate limits, billing etc - with simple deployment to a cloud provider?

jslakro7 months ago

If your provider support docker I suggest you go with Apisix, I found this article pretty useful following that path: https://blog.frankel.ch/poor-man-api/

hbcondo7147 months ago

AFAIK, https://apisix.apache.org does not have a billing / monetization feature

jslakro7 months ago

True, there is not a built-in feature for billing. It'd be necessary to build on top of apisix, using itsmetrics (via prometheus) and consumer groups

whalesalad7 months ago

Tip: utilize hover effects for hyperlinks.

f35caleb7 months ago

I appreciate it. We both come from data and backend backgrounds, landing page design isn't exactly our strong suit :). Getting some proper design resources brought in for our marketing page is on my todo list after we finish the product.

19057 months ago

I'm waiting for a YahooPipes for API